PALO ALTO – Apple Inc. keeps on resisting government calls to develop software that could unlock an extremist’s iPhone. Given that helping the Federal Bureau of Intelligence could make other iPhones vulnerable, the company remains in defense of the privacy and safety of all iPhone users and now other giant tech firms like Google and Facebook are supporting Apple’s decision.
The FBI explains it only needs narrow technical assistance in bypassing security functionalities on an iPhone used by one of the extremists that killed 14 people in the San Bernardino shooting. FBI Directors James Comey said online that he’s following that lead for the sake of the survivors.
But Apple argues that a magistrate’s order would force the company to develop software that will expose other iPhone users’ personal information, which could enable authorities and criminals to take advantage of it.
Tech titans including Facebook, Google, Twitter and Microsoft have announced they’ll file legal complaints in support of Apple’s position, according to CBS News. The companies have gone to court and Congress in order to limit government data-gathering and they also have been fighting against authorities’ moves to weaken the encryption codes that protect users’ messages from prying eyes.
On the other hand, several privacy advocates claim that those firms earn billions of dollars by gathering all kinds of personal information such as records of customers’ online behavior in order to target them for advertising.
Internet titans argue they give a proper use to costumers’ personal data in order to protect their privacy
Apple CEO Tim Cook has remarked that most of the company’s services don’t rely on ad revenue. “When an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product”, he has stated several times.
As for Facebook, the site does track user’s likes and other actions to use their behavior’s data for advertising, so that the company can show them ads that are targeted to people who have similar characteristics within the social network. Still, Facebook has clarified that it never gives advertisers access to personal information linked to any user by name.
Rachel Whetstone, who was senior vice president for Google last year, said in a speech that the giant Internet company didn’t sell users’ personal data, nor did it share it without their consent. However, she said Google shared such information under “very limited circumstances”, which included a court-issued warrant.
Cindy Cohn, executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation pointed out that consumers should be aware that the government could one day have access to any information they give to companies, as reported by CBS News. She added that it was something positive that these companies were supporting Apple since the situation would help them rethink about how much personal data they really need to gather, how they protect it and how long they keep it.
Source: CBS News